Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Jane Austen's Home

"Everyone likes to go their own
way- to choose their own times and
manner of devotion." - Jane Austen
I arrived in Chawton in a way only Elizabeth Bennett would have approved of. While it wasn’t my petticoat six inches deep in mud, my jeans and boots were covered with dirt, grass and burnt out cigarettes that were discarded along the highway. I was visiting Chawton to see an old friend and by old friend I mean an author born in 1775 whom I’ve read all her novels at least twice over. Currently, I am taking a Jane Austen Seminar at Harlaxton College and this trip was part of a project for the class. Although I would have went to visit Miss Austen’s home even if it was not required.

"We have all a better guide in
ourselves, if we would attend to it, than
any other person can be." - Jane Austen
To get to Chawton, I had to take the London Underground  to Waterloo Train Station and find my way to town which was a three mile walk from Alton Train Station. I did all of this alone. While this may seem like a very scary situation, it wasn't and at parts it was. Like when there was a fight between two men on my train or when my phone died and I had to make it through the London Underground without any contact with my friends. But that's why you come to study abroad; to take trips to new places and to realize you are much more capable than the rest of the world would like you to believe.
"She had a lively, playful
disposition and delighted in everything
ridiculous." - Jane Austen
The point of being abroad is to do something that you aren't use to, to be uncomfortable and even make yourself frightened, but this also brings a different kind of joy. Joy that cannot be expressed by mere words. If we all stayed in our dorm rooms and did nothing you may as well have stayed in America. Don't be weary to travel alone or break away from the friends who have come abroad with you because you'll find you ARE able to survive the London streets, learn how to use a compass and find a new part of yourself that you hadn't the slightest idea existed.

Written by: Skylar Plummer

Monday, 25 January 2016

Livin' it Up in London

Big Ben and Parliament
London is a phenomenal city for many reasons, including the fact that it offers something for everyone. East End has attractions that will appeal to your fun, artsy side. For people interested in history and architecture, the city is crawling with buildings that are as old as and even older than our very own U.S. of A itself. And if you’re a crazy, fan-girl with an obsession for BBC’s Sherlock, London is home to many of the TV show’s frequent film locations, giving you hopeful opportunities to glimpse the amazing Benedict Cumberbatch in action. (No such luck yet.) Visiting the city gives confident credibility to Samuel Johnson’s statement, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."

With such a variety of options, it’s easy then to understand traveling alone in London. When first arriving Thursday night for the school trip, I had no intentions of traveling by myself. I did, however, have a list of places I wanted to go, and it didn’t take me long to realize that school excursions and different priorities would prevent me from completing my list if I tried to stay with friends all day. So, I set off Friday morning by myself in what I hoped was the right direction to the Euston tube station. And…everything worked out great! After hearing horror stories of trips gone wrong and receiving countless warnings from my parents not to go off by myself (sorry Mom and Dad) I expected AT LEAST one traumatic event to befall me. During my solo travels, nothing went wrong with the exception of a couple of minor, easily fixable situations on Saturday afternoon/night (Lumiere London, beautiful as it was, inconvenienced more than a few people). I had a wonderful time and got to experience areas of London that I’d only dreamed of going to. Nevertheless, traveling alone anywhere in Europe can be a dangerous and sticky situation.

The Sherlock Holmes Museum
Overall, I’d advise to mix it up. Traveling in groups is fantastic! Despite the fact that I toured the Sherlock Holmes Museum (and got to take a selfie in the great Sherlock’s bedroom) the second day spent traveling by myself in London got a little lonely. From a more practical view, when you’re lost in a large, foreign-speaking city for the first time it’s not quite as nerve racking being clueless when you’ve got three other people to help you solve the problem  (Two heads are better than one!) Be independent and travel by yourself too, but do it safely. Make sure you prepare and don’t jump so far out of your comfort zone that you’re too scared to leave your hostel.

Lastly, I’d like to advise EVERYONE at Harlaxton of this one thing: buy a selfie-stick. Prior to Harlaxton, I thought they were tacky and tasteless, but then I realized just how hard it was to get all of Big Ben and myself into the frame without any help.

Written by: Remington Grenier